Hillary Clinton, campaigning in Kentucky, said that she would put her husband “in charge of revitalizing the economy” if elected. While this was probably just and off the cuff remark and not a serious plan, it’s drawn criticism. One particularly irksome line of argument is that this is somehow anti-feminist. For instance Gail Collins argues that Clinton should follow the example “of women who’ve become senators, governors, C.E.O.s, diplomats without familial assistance.”
I’m not here to shoot down independent women, but implying that Hillary is wrong to use her husband nauseatingly wrongheaded.
For one, Bill Clinton is not some random hunk in the style of Todd Palin. He’s a former President of the United States, and a very successful one at that. There is only one other living former democratic President in the United States, and he’s 91 years old. That gives Bill an incredibly unique set of qualifications to serve a Hilary Clinton administration, and familial relations shouldn’t get in the way. Hillary doesn’t need to handicap her choices to prove a point about being independent.
In fact, back when Bill Clinton was campaigning for President he was so excited to have Hillary assist in his administration that he told voters it was almost as if they were getting two Presidents “for the price of one.” To now claim that Hillary cannot receive the same assistance in her administration to prove her “womanly independence” is in fact a sexist double standard.
Second, it’s clear that Bill Clinton’s involvement in Hillary’s campaign is a political decision. As Collins notes in her column, Bill is more popular than Hillary in Kentucky. In fact, Bill is the most popular living President in polling history while Hillary will be one of the most unpopular nominees of all time. In case Gail Collins hasn’t noticed, people run political campaigns to get elected, not to satisfy the intellectual puritanism of a New York Times columnist.
The ultimate feminist move for Hillary Clinton is to become the first female President despite our sexist and misogynistic society. Certainly Hillary will suffer at the polls because of her gender. If she can cancel some of that out by appealing to people who think Bill will be running the White House behind the scenes, all the power to her.